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Showing posts with label Borno state. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Borno state. Show all posts

ONE KIDNAPPING TOO MANY! - OKEGBOLA

ONE KIDNAPPING TOO MANY! - OKEGBOLA


Let me first express my joy for the return of the students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina state, alive and in one piece. These boys were kidnapped exactly a week ago from their boarding school. After a headcount, and the back and forth on the actual number of students missing, about 333 were finally confirmed by the Governor of Katsina state, Rt. Hon. Aminu Bello Masari. On return, 344 was mentioned. Garba Shehu has apologised for giving such a ridiculous number as 10.


The incident happened some hours after the arrival of the president in Katsina state, who is on one-week private visit to his home town, Daura, in the same state. Many saw the incident as an afront to the president, who is the Commander-in-Chief and the Chief Security Officer of the country, whose first constitutional responsibility is to protect the lives and properties of the citizens. Those who did that must have done so for strategic reason to make the president look bad. And they succeeded.


For the past one week, all kinds of verbal "missiles" have been thrown at the president and his administration. Series of events were organised to show the anger of Nigerians against his handling of the security matters in the country as a whole, and particularly in the north, which has been more at the receiving end. But, can the critics be blamed? No, ofcourse. Only an insensitive, inhumane and irresponsible person will be nonchalant about all that's going on in the country now.


Against my resolve some months ago, I found myself writing about the challenges of insecurities in Nigeria, and in the north specifically, in the past three weeks. The situation is akin to what the Yorubas will call; "egbinrin ote, bi a se n pakan, nikan nu ruwe" (the shoot of conspiracy, as we nip one, another sprouts). I am overwhelmed by the shear magnitude, frequency and the brutality of the attacks these days. Many lives have been lost to them.


The events of the past week overshadowed and dented the 78th birthday celebration of our President Muhammadu Buhari. The day was 17th of December. There was no chance for merriment given the circumstances we are in. I am using this opportunity to wish him happy birthday. Long life in good health (he already has prosperity, no need disturbing God about that again). Such occasion should be used to reflect on his life, living and the legacy he would like to leave behind after his tenure and after his sojourn on the mother earth.


The situation at this time didn't permit me to write about him personally, something I did in the past three years on every Saturday that followed his birthday. I usually used the opportunity of that day to x-ray few things about him, his personality, his government and performances. But today, the situation is sobering.


As at today, it is now 2441 days that Chibok girls were abducted from their hostel on April 14, 2014 in Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno state, while preparing to write their WAEC in May/June 2014. Nigeria was never the same again. This was during the previous administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. When it happened, it was unbelievable to the extent that the FG denied it happened. This unfortunately slowed down immediate response to rescue them until they have gone far and it was too late. It was novel to us in Nigeria at the time.


The back and forth of that time was nauseating. The blame game, accusations and counter-accusations that followed made a mess of the whole incident. The various accusations of politicisation of it, the misinformation, sabotage, conspiracy, the many unanswered questions till date, the many issues that were shrouded in secrecy, and so on. The girls were the people who suffered for all of that. The government mishandled it.


So, one could imagine the fear and agony when the news of another mass kidnapping broke last Saturday. It was devastating. And to say we were still recovering from the massacre of 43 farmers in Zabambari, who were slaughtered by boko haram. That was shattering.


On Thursday afternoon, I was quick to spread the "good news" of the release of the boys immediately I got that from my publisher, one I always trust and rely on his sources and news. I was overexcited, knowing what evil must have passed over the boys if the news were to be true. Unfortunately, my celebration was cut short will another news of rebuttal by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, from whose Twitter handle many got the news also. She claimed her account was hacked. I had to forward that rebuttal as well to all the platforms I earlier shared the "good news". My heart was broken into pieces.


As if that was not enough, many of my friends on social media who saw my first post were very quick to criticise me for spreading "fake news" even if it was good. That actually came from our history. Many of them, as I often wrote in the past, are either APC members, "Buharists" (loyalists and supporters of President Buhari) or those who have sympathy for him and the current administration. So, it was an opportunity to hit back at me as they have always seen me as an "enemy" because of my critical analysis of this administration's performances in the past few years.


I took responsibility for my post with the explanation that fell more on deaf ears. However, as God would have it, the news turned out to be true. My joy was double bound. After confirmation the second time, I had to wait for more visual evidences before posting again. And as a believer in God, I "forgave" my earlier transducers who also tried to justify their actions against me (lol). "Ti a o ba gbagbe oro ana, a o ni reni ba sere (it's in forgiveness that relationships blossom).


All that were really inconsequential to me. The joy that the boys were back overshadowed any misgivings. This is one thing I commend the government under the leadership of President Buhari for and all the efforts put in it by the Katsina state governor. They did very well. Those six days were traumatising to the parents of these kids. I knew because I followed the incident keenly. Katsina was under my jurisdiction while I worked in the north for about 10 years.


I know the Kankara village. I passed there on my way from and to Kano, Dutsinma, Funtua, etc. countless times. I hope people can now understand my attachment. Katsina was naturally a relatively more peaceful state in the north, even at the height of the boko haram attacks. How it became such a hot bed of criminals still baffles me. I don't want to join in different conspiratorial analysis that followed the abduction and release. I am simply happy that the kids are back.


This is similar to what happened in Dapchi nearly three years ago. Abduction and latter released soon after. That still has its scar on us all as one girl, Leah Sharibu is still in captivity, just like over 100 Chibok girls who have not been released till date, in spite of all the government's efforts. It’s true that one of the waves that President Buhari and APC rode to power was that of Chibok girls and general insecurities.


In 2014, #BringBackOurGirls went viral. It became a global movement, triggered by a group with the same name in Nigeria. They were nightmare to Jonathan and his government. The conveners were Dr. Oby Ezekwezili, Ayesha Yesufu and some others. Some people in the present administration were part of the movement. The people in power today, took advantage of the potency of that movement to damage (literally) Jonathan and his government. He was denigrated, called all kinds of names. People were sold their alternative, which included securing the nation, ending boko haram and bringing back all the Chibok girls in record time. But here we are. The chickens have come home to roost.


Not only that boko haram has not been defeated and that many Chibok girls are still in captivity, the general security across the country has collapsed, unlike in the past when boko haram was the biggest security challenge. Now, roads have become death traps as they have been taken over by kidnappers. Farms are killing fields as they have been colonised by bandits. Many communities have become ghost towns since people ran away and abandoned their ancestral homes for fear of being killed. "Iku t'onpa ojugba eni, owe lo npa fun ni" (to be forewarned, is to be foreharmed).


Nowhere is safe now. Nobody feels safe. But, we cannot give up on our country. Emir of Kaura Namoda of Zamfara state escaped by the whimsical on Thursday night, from being killed on Zaira-Funtua road. Eight others in his entourage were not that lucky. They were killed by bandits who attacked their convoy. Another Emir was kidnapped from inside the mosque in Kogi while he went for morning prayer yesterday.


What is really going on? The situation has become hydra-headed. For years, there have been calls for the rejigging of the national security architecture and breathing of fresh air into the leadership of security agencies, but all that fell on deaf ears. The president has the prerogative of appointing and sacking them but he didn't do anything. May be he knows what the rest of Nigerians don't know, because, even the national assembly's call was never heeded.


Then, one wonders who benefits from these insecurities when events that happened this week is considered. On Monday, the Coalition of Northern Group (CNG) organised a meeting in Arewa House, Kaduna, to discuss the problem of the insecurities in the north, a welcome development. But what happened? There was an invasion of the venue by arms-bearing thugs and hoodlooms who attacked them, scattered the gathering, broke cars and other facilities, many invitees and dignitaries scampered for safety. Many were wounded. Who sponsored them? What was the motive? How does one explain an attack by "potential" victims of insecurities on the people who tried to profer solutions to their problems? What's really going on?


Why has the federal government not been able to nab the financiers and sponsors of the terrorists and bandits all these years despite having the helicopter view of financial transactions and movements of funds through the CBN and other regulatory agencies? Afterall, it took the CBN only few days to track those accused of financing the #EndSARS peaceful protesters and froze their accounts. Or is it a matter of interests and priorities?


In similar scenario, it took the government of UAE to identify and arrest some sponsors of terrorism in Nigeria. Before, during and after, we did not hear any action from the government of Nigeria, CBN or other agencies. These are concerns among many. How do we move forward from here?


What I believe is missing in all of this is sincerity of purpose. The people saddled with the responsibilities of protecting lives and properties are not completely sincere in their handling of the issue. This is why there are always accusations and allegations of complicity in crimes, corruption in security funding and rebuilding efforts. IDP relief materials were stolen. The insecurity has become a striving industry for many involved.


For the umpteenth time, there is need for sincerity of purpose. The security architecture should be rejig. There should be deployment of technology to enhance the functionality of the security agents. The training of the agents in modern ways of policing and securing the country should be a continous exercise. They should also be provided with modern equipment, arms and amunitions. More personnel should be recruited into different security agencies.


Unfortunately, these measures may still have limitations as to their effectiveness as long as we continue to operate this dysfunctional system of government as we have in the country. Nigeria should be restructured. The much advocated state police, local police and community policing will be consequential dividends of a properly restructured country. We cannot be doing the same thing over and over, but expect different results. That’s insanity. When are we going to be "sane" and do the right things?


In all, all glory be to God for the safe return of the Kankara boys. We urge the government to put similarly intense efforts at rescuing other citizens in captivity of terrorists, bandits and kidnappers, including Leah Sharibu, Chibok girls, and the rest.


May God continue to protect us.


God Bless Nigeria.


[email protected]



Share, forward and retweet, as sharing makes love go round!


Let me first express my joy for the return of the students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina state, alive and in one piece. These boys were kidnapped exactly a week ago from their boarding school. After a headcount, and the back and forth on the actual number of students missing, about 333 were finally confirmed by the Governor of Katsina state, Rt. Hon. Aminu Bello Masari. On return, 344 was mentioned. Garba Shehu has apologised for giving such a ridiculous number as 10.


The incident happened some hours after the arrival of the president in Katsina state, who is on one-week private visit to his home town, Daura, in the same state. Many saw the incident as an afront to the president, who is the Commander-in-Chief and the Chief Security Officer of the country, whose first constitutional responsibility is to protect the lives and properties of the citizens. Those who did that must have done so for strategic reason to make the president look bad. And they succeeded.


For the past one week, all kinds of verbal "missiles" have been thrown at the president and his administration. Series of events were organised to show the anger of Nigerians against his handling of the security matters in the country as a whole, and particularly in the north, which has been more at the receiving end. But, can the critics be blamed? No, ofcourse. Only an insensitive, inhumane and irresponsible person will be nonchalant about all that's going on in the country now.


Against my resolve some months ago, I found myself writing about the challenges of insecurities in Nigeria, and in the north specifically, in the past three weeks. The situation is akin to what the Yorubas will call; "egbinrin ote, bi a se n pakan, nikan nu ruwe" (the shoot of conspiracy, as we nip one, another sprouts). I am overwhelmed by the shear magnitude, frequency and the brutality of the attacks these days. Many lives have been lost to them.


The events of the past week overshadowed and dented the 78th birthday celebration of our President Muhammadu Buhari. The day was 17th of December. There was no chance for merriment given the circumstances we are in. I am using this opportunity to wish him happy birthday. Long life in good health (he already has prosperity, no need disturbing God about that again). Such occasion should be used to reflect on his life, living and the legacy he would like to leave behind after his tenure and after his sojourn on the mother earth.


The situation at this time didn't permit me to write about him personally, something I did in the past three years on every Saturday that followed his birthday. I usually used the opportunity of that day to x-ray few things about him, his personality, his government and performances. But today, the situation is sobering.


As at today, it is now 2441 days that Chibok girls were abducted from their hostel on April 14, 2014 in Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno state, while preparing to write their WAEC in May/June 2014. Nigeria was never the same again. This was during the previous administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. When it happened, it was unbelievable to the extent that the FG denied it happened. This unfortunately slowed down immediate response to rescue them until they have gone far and it was too late. It was novel to us in Nigeria at the time.


The back and forth of that time was nauseating. The blame game, accusations and counter-accusations that followed made a mess of the whole incident. The various accusations of politicisation of it, the misinformation, sabotage, conspiracy, the many unanswered questions till date, the many issues that were shrouded in secrecy, and so on. The girls were the people who suffered for all of that. The government mishandled it.


So, one could imagine the fear and agony when the news of another mass kidnapping broke last Saturday. It was devastating. And to say we were still recovering from the massacre of 43 farmers in Zabambari, who were slaughtered by boko haram. That was shattering.


On Thursday afternoon, I was quick to spread the "good news" of the release of the boys immediately I got that from my publisher, one I always trust and rely on his sources and news. I was overexcited, knowing what evil must have passed over the boys if the news were to be true. Unfortunately, my celebration was cut short will another news of rebuttal by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, from whose Twitter handle many got the news also. She claimed her account was hacked. I had to forward that rebuttal as well to all the platforms I earlier shared the "good news". My heart was broken into pieces.


As if that was not enough, many of my friends on social media who saw my first post were very quick to criticise me for spreading "fake news" even if it was good. That actually came from our history. Many of them, as I often wrote in the past, are either APC members, "Buharists" (loyalists and supporters of President Buhari) or those who have sympathy for him and the current administration. So, it was an opportunity to hit back at me as they have always seen me as an "enemy" because of my critical analysis of this administration's performances in the past few years.


I took responsibility for my post with the explanation that fell more on deaf ears. However, as God would have it, the news turned out to be true. My joy was double bound. After confirmation the second time, I had to wait for more visual evidences before posting again. And as a believer in God, I "forgave" my earlier transducers who also tried to justify their actions against me (lol). "Ti a o ba gbagbe oro ana, a o ni reni ba sere (it's in forgiveness that relationships blossom).


All that were really inconsequential to me. The joy that the boys were back overshadowed any misgivings. This is one thing I commend the government under the leadership of President Buhari for and all the efforts put in it by the Katsina state governor. They did very well. Those six days were traumatising to the parents of these kids. I knew because I followed the incident keenly. Katsina was under my jurisdiction while I worked in the north for about 10 years.


I know the Kankara village. I passed there on my way from and to Kano, Dutsinma, Funtua, etc. countless times. I hope people can now understand my attachment. Katsina was naturally a relatively more peaceful state in the north, even at the height of the boko haram attacks. How it became such a hot bed of criminals still baffles me. I don't want to join in different conspiratorial analysis that followed the abduction and release. I am simply happy that the kids are back.


This is similar to what happened in Dapchi nearly three years ago. Abduction and latter released soon after. That still has its scar on us all as one girl, Leah Sharibu is still in captivity, just like over 100 Chibok girls who have not been released till date, in spite of all the government's efforts. It’s true that one of the waves that President Buhari and APC rode to power was that of Chibok girls and general insecurities.


In 2014, #BringBackOurGirls went viral. It became a global movement, triggered by a group with the same name in Nigeria. They were nightmare to Jonathan and his government. The conveners were Dr. Oby Ezekwezili, Ayesha Yesufu and some others. Some people in the present administration were part of the movement. The people in power today, took advantage of the potency of that movement to damage (literally) Jonathan and his government. He was denigrated, called all kinds of names. People were sold their alternative, which included securing the nation, ending boko haram and bringing back all the Chibok girls in record time. But here we are. The chickens have come home to roost.


Not only that boko haram has not been defeated and that many Chibok girls are still in captivity, the general security across the country has collapsed, unlike in the past when boko haram was the biggest security challenge. Now, roads have become death traps as they have been taken over by kidnappers. Farms are killing fields as they have been colonised by bandits. Many communities have become ghost towns since people ran away and abandoned their ancestral homes for fear of being killed. "Iku t'onpa ojugba eni, owe lo npa fun ni" (to be forewarned, is to be foreharmed).


Nowhere is safe now. Nobody feels safe. But, we cannot give up on our country. Emir of Kaura Namoda of Zamfara state escaped by the whimsical on Thursday night, from being killed on Zaira-Funtua road. Eight others in his entourage were not that lucky. They were killed by bandits who attacked their convoy. Another Emir was kidnapped from inside the mosque in Kogi while he went for morning prayer yesterday.


What is really going on? The situation has become hydra-headed. For years, there have been calls for the rejigging of the national security architecture and breathing of fresh air into the leadership of security agencies, but all that fell on deaf ears. The president has the prerogative of appointing and sacking them but he didn't do anything. May be he knows what the rest of Nigerians don't know, because, even the national assembly's call was never heeded.


Then, one wonders who benefits from these insecurities when events that happened this week is considered. On Monday, the Coalition of Northern Group (CNG) organised a meeting in Arewa House, Kaduna, to discuss the problem of the insecurities in the north, a welcome development. But what happened? There was an invasion of the venue by arms-bearing thugs and hoodlooms who attacked them, scattered the gathering, broke cars and other facilities, many invitees and dignitaries scampered for safety. Many were wounded. Who sponsored them? What was the motive? How does one explain an attack by "potential" victims of insecurities on the people who tried to profer solutions to their problems? What's really going on?


Why has the federal government not been able to nab the financiers and sponsors of the terrorists and bandits all these years despite having the helicopter view of financial transactions and movements of funds through the CBN and other regulatory agencies? Afterall, it took the CBN only few days to track those accused of financing the #EndSARS peaceful protesters and froze their accounts. Or is it a matter of interests and priorities?


In similar scenario, it took the government of UAE to identify and arrest some sponsors of terrorism in Nigeria. Before, during and after, we did not hear any action from the government of Nigeria, CBN or other agencies. These are concerns among many. How do we move forward from here?


What I believe is missing in all of this is sincerity of purpose. The people saddled with the responsibilities of protecting lives and properties are not completely sincere in their handling of the issue. This is why there are always accusations and allegations of complicity in crimes, corruption in security funding and rebuilding efforts. IDP relief materials were stolen. The insecurity has become a striving industry for many involved.


For the umpteenth time, there is need for sincerity of purpose. The security architecture should be rejig. There should be deployment of technology to enhance the functionality of the security agents. The training of the agents in modern ways of policing and securing the country should be a continous exercise. They should also be provided with modern equipment, arms and amunitions. More personnel should be recruited into different security agencies.


Unfortunately, these measures may still have limitations as to their effectiveness as long as we continue to operate this dysfunctional system of government as we have in the country. Nigeria should be restructured. The much advocated state police, local police and community policing will be consequential dividends of a properly restructured country. We cannot be doing the same thing over and over, but expect different results. That’s insanity. When are we going to be "sane" and do the right things?


In all, all glory be to God for the safe return of the Kankara boys. We urge the government to put similarly intense efforts at rescuing other citizens in captivity of terrorists, bandits and kidnappers, including Leah Sharibu, Chibok girls, and the rest.


May God continue to protect us.


God Bless Nigeria.


[email protected]



Share, forward and retweet, as sharing makes love go round!

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